Check out the weird dissonance of this:
At the same time, though, I was a little jealous of those getting permits. Taking my guns from the safe was a rare treat; the sensual pleasure of handling guns is a big part of the habit. Elegantly designed and exquisitely manufactured, they are deeply satisfying to manipulate, even without shooting. I normally got to play with mine only a few times a year, during hunting season and on one or two trips to the range. The people with carry permits, though, were handling their guns all the time. They were developing an enviable competence and familiarity with them. They were living the gun life. Finally, last year, under the guise of “wanting to learn what this is all about,” but really wanting to live the gun life myself, I began the process of getting a carry permit. All that was required was a background check, fingerprints, and certification that I’d passed an approved handgun class.
Gun life… living a life of competence and familiarity with a piece of “elegantly designed and exquisitely manufactured” death dealing machines. Guns are designed to kill, you can argue all you want that there are other concerns that come before the priority of killing displacing the primary purpose of a gun (“to look elegant, to deter attackers, etc, etc”) but the spectre of a gun being about meting out death or maiming never goes away. Remove that dimension of a gun and it stops being a gun. Even the “less lethal” (not non-lethal; the haunting never leaves) guns cannot excise the spirit, the possibility that accidentally or unintentionally someone is killed by a less-lethal bullet.
There is nothing life affirming about a gun, and anyone living around them regularly who forgets that is like the person who gets behind the wheel without any of the quiet fear that comes from never being able to forget that a car just as easily crosses into the territory of ‘weapon’.
Bonus: Check out Amanda Marcotte’s pinterest post pointing at the “psychosexual weirdness“of gun fetishists, and the advertisement for the Bushmaster type semi-automatic used in the recent Sandy Hook massacre. It’s a banal point that Americans have weird sexual hang-ups (for reals) and I wonder how often “living the gun life” becomes a Freudian ‘return of the repressed’ for many. “Consider your man card re-issued” addressed to the viewer, looking slightly askew down the barrel of a machine that promises no impotence ever, aka full potency is such an easy target for this kind of analysis. (Quentin Meillassoux’s partner has apparently done a lot of interesting scholarship on the importance of Aristotelean ‘potency’ on middle ages Christian theologians thinking the concept of ‘omnipotence’ (full potency) seems very promising here, I want to read her stuff)
I have a copy of C.J. Chivers’ “The Gun: The History of the AK” (extract and neat videografik here at Esquire) but I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet (I should hurry up, it’s my brother’s book lol).